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Iraqi Troops Arrest MP Ahmed Al-Awlani On Terrorism Charges

Security forces in Iraq have detained MP Ahmed al-Alwani after a raid on his home in the western city of Ramadi, on Saturday morning.

According to police, as the troops attacked the MPs residence, Awlani's guards and tribesmen opened fire, prompting a shootout that lasted nearly an hour. The ensuing skirmish killed five of Alwani's guards and his brother, and has reportedly left 18 security forces members wounded. Al-Alwani and six of his guards were arrested after they ran out of ammunition.

A prominent member of the Sunni community, Alwani had backed protests against the Shia government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and was reportedly wanted on terrorism charges for inciting violence against Shiites who came to power after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ended Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led regime.

Iraqiya, Al-Alwani's parliamentary bloc, have demanded his release and denounced the arrest as politically-motivated.

The year long Sunni protests coupled with violence in Iraq is said to have raised fears the country could slide back to the dark days when it was on the brink of sectarian war. According to UN estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year.

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